What are the elements of burglary and criminal trespass in Texas?

When facing burglary charges in the state of Texas, the charged owes it to themselves to become familiar with the criminal law involved. This post provides a brief summary of the elements of the crime of burglary in the Lone Star State, as well as the elements of the related offense of criminal trespass.

Between the two crimes of burglary and criminal trespass, burglary is the more serious offense. In order to prove the crime of burglary, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant entered a private habitation or other building — without the consent of the owner — with the intent to commit an assault, theft or felony. The term burglary also encompasses the act of breaking into a coin-operated machine or entering a vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or felony.

Burglaries of private habitations and other buildings are felonies. Burglary of a private habitation is a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Burglary of a building, not a private habitation, is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Burglary of a coin-operated machine and burglary of a vehicle are both Class A misdemeanors. If a defendant in a vehicle burglary case has two or more prior convictions for vehicle burglary, they could be charged with a state jail felony.

The crime of criminal trespass is less serious and has fewer elements. In order to secure a conviction for criminal trespass, the prosecution must prove that the defendant entered or remained on another’s property without the consent of the other person. And, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had notice not to enter or notice to leave, but failed to do so. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor.

A criminal conviction can have serious repercussions for a defendant. A criminal defense lawyer can provide more information regarding these repercussions and possible defense options.

Source: TX.us, “Tex. Penal Code §§ 30.01 et seq.,” accessed on June 25, 2016